Aventail has announced an appliance that works in conjunction with its SSL VPN gear to create secure IP conferencing that includes voice, video and instant messaging.
Called Secure Collaboration, the appliance supports conferencing, collaboration and help desk applications that are secured through VPN tunnels. The combination lets customers tie together authorized users who are connected to the Internet by any device -- desktop, laptop, PDA or phone.
The device can be placed between an SSL VPN gateway and the corporate network so remote users trying to set up conferences over the Internet first have to authenticate to the VPN gateway. This ensures that the person trying to set up a collaborative session is authorized to do so and creates SSL links to protect the information sent from prying eyes.
Traffic sent over the conference can be archived, making it possible to play back what happened during a conference. These records also can be used as proof that sensitive data was handled in accordance with government and industry regulations that protect privacy.
Using the conferencing appliance eliminates the need for conferencing services, so savings from that can pay for the devices over time.
To set up a conference, users log on to the Secure Collaboration portal and select users to invite to the conference via e-mail. Each user logs on at the appointed time to join. The first time they log on to a conference, the appliance downloads client software to their remote machines to support the conference. The conferencing agent is then cached on the remote machine for future conferences or collaboration.
In a help desk application, the user logs on to the portal and clicks on a link for the help desk. If all help desk technicians are busy, the device can be configured to wait for the next available one.
Pricing for Aventail Secure Collaboration starts at US$5,000 for 10 concurrent users and ranges up to US$67,500 for 500 users.